There may be no bigger gift than the gift of travel. A chance to re-connect with family, make memories and see the world all rolled into one blissful vacation. When this blissful vacay includes Teens, you have to prepare a little differently. These smart, tech-savvy, easily bored mini-adults march to their own drums and quite clearly have their own set of expectations about all it takes to create a great vacation. So how do you make sure your trip to Walt Disney World is magical for everyone in the family including the teens? Follow these tried and true tips and prepare for a little magic….Disney style of course.
Make your teenager part of the planning. Your idyllic trip to the Magic Kingdom may include stops to grab pictures at Dumbo and the famous Mad Tea Party. However is this what your teen wants to do? There’s only one way to find out. Sit that teenager down in front of their laptop, head over to Walt Disney World site and let her get her planning on. A teenager who is involved in the planning of a trip will absolutely have more fun.
Map out your Fast Passes.
While you have the park maps open book those Fast Passes and do it strategically! Chances are you have a big wish list of “must do” rides and attractions. When you book the Fast Passes, try and group the first 3 together. For Example. When booking Fast Passes at the Magic Kingdom pick your most wanted ride first, perhaps The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and take note that it’s located in Fantasyland. Then when you pick Fastpass 2 and 3, try and choose two more attractions from the same area or one close by. This will help to save both your time and your feet. It will also save you from a display of attitude from that teenager if you’re dragging her crisscross across the park and all over the place. (not that this has ever happened to me. *cough)
Eliminate Smartphone Drama. Yes, this may sound like the opposite of your normal parenting routine, allowing smartphone time while on vacation, but there are some pretty incredible things happening at Walt Disney World and your Pre-Teen or Teen is going to want to share them with the world. Feel free to set a limit, but everyone wins when you have a ridiculously happy child that’s been allowed to send out the occasional snapchat or Instagram a picture as they find the perfect set of Mickey Mouse ears. Teens need to stay connected and love to share their joy, so why not let them share a little of their own Pixie Dust. Besides, wifi in the parks is free!
EmbraceThe Mobile App.
The Mobile App is genius and you have a smartphone expert with you, your teen. This free app helps you put all the magic at your fingertips, or even better, in the hands of your teen. Once downloaded you are all able to explore Walt Disney World Resort on the interactive, GPS-enabled map. You can also use the Mobile App to help find your way around with simple step-by-step directions to locations across Walt Disney World Resort. (we may have used this feature half a dozen times) You can also find out wait times for attractions, as well as showtimes for fireworks and parades. Our favourite feature; the ability to browse restaurant menus, make dining reservations and even order food before you arrive at your restaurant of choice. Don’t feel like waiting in line for that Dole Whip? You don’t have to! Simply place your order as you walk over and it will be waiting for you when you arrive. So easy!
Tackle the mountains first.
Be the cool parent that knows all things including the best rides. Show them the way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain. Ride them all. Insider Tip; Sometimes it’s worth the little extra wait time for the first or last car on the track. Try it, your teen will thank you.
Feed the beast.
No one likes a hangry teen (or parent) Don’t forget to build in downtime for snacks and meals. And keep in mind that eating at off hours, lunch at 2 pm instead of 12 pm, will help with wait times in the restaurants.
Take advantage of the late night hours.
Caffeinate as needed because night time is a truly magical time! When traveling with teens, they don’t get tired. Like ever! (but those smaller people do) Use those crazy late night hours, which are quieter, to take advantage of the late night magic and squeeze in “just one more ride” and “snap one more picture”. Insider Tip; try the Kilimanjaro Safari ride after dark at the Animal Kingdom. I was worried all the animals would be sleeping or difficult to see but just the opposite was true. We saw an incredible array of wildlife on display, up close and personal! It was one of the best experiences of the day!
Don’t miss the Fireworks.
Picture courtesy of WaltDisneyWorld.com
For something, extra special indulge in a Fireworks Dessert Party. Choose from two different viewing areas; the Plaza Garden Viewing (it has a better see the castle projections) or Tomorrowland Terrace (with reserved seating) for a spectacular and super sweet way to end your day. Spoil yourself with sweet treats while taking in one of the best fireworks shows you will ever see. Note: Reservations are required and there is an extra ticket required for this experience.
Find Your Inner Teen. Walt Disney World is the kind of place where you can let your walls down, leave your inhibitions at the door and just enjoy. So go ahead, make some memories with your kids, be brave, be bold and scream like only a teenager can on the scary thrill rides and water rides. I promise your teenager will be impressed.
Be Flexible: If it’s cold. Grab a sweater. If it rains, put on a poncho. If your teen wants to jump from park to park only stopping to grab that perfect Instagram picture let them go for it. Above all else do your best to let your Teen show you the way, live in the moment and enjoy every single moment.